Pa. soccer mom gets weapon permit back

October 15, 2008 4:25:21 AM PDT
A mother who angered fellow parents when she wore a holstered pistol at her 5-year-old daughter's soccer game got her concealed weapons permit back Tuesday after a judge overruled a sheriff's decision to revoke it.

Meleanie Hain testified that she did not intend to intimidate anyone, but felt she had to carry the gun openly because warm-weather clothing made it difficult to hide a firearm and so she could reach it more easily if she needed to defend herself from an attacker. She said her husband's line of work, which was not disclosed, made her a "greater target" than the average person.

Lebanon County Judge Robert Eby, who said he is also a gun owner with a concealed weapons permit, said the law required him to return Hain's permit. But he also questioned her judgment, saying she "scared the devil" out of others at the soccer field.

"Fear doesn't belong at a kid's soccer game from any source," Eby said.

Hain lost the permit after other parents complained last month that she was openly carrying a loaded and holstered handgun at her daughter's soccer game.

A youth soccer coach said he approached Hain at the Sept. 11 game and asked her to move to the other side of the field, away from the sideline where the children were standing.

The coach, Charles Jones, testified during the hearing that he had not noticed Hain's gun, but became aware of it after his wife told him about it during halftime.

"I was worried about it," Jones said.

Hain testified that she has openly carried the gun while shopping, visiting friends, and attending other youth soccer games and practices.

"I'm certainly not looking to shoot anyone over a goal," she told Eby.

Lebanon County Sheriff Michael DeLeo said he pulled Hain's license after fielding the parents' complaints.

A couple dozen courtroom spectators broke out in a light applause when the judge issued his decision.

George Christianson, DeLeo's lawyer, said the decision would not be appealed.

Hain said she was satisfied with the result and expected to return to the sidelines - with her gun - at a youth soccer game in the future.

"People have the right to voice their opinion ... and I have a right to my Second Amendment right," she said. "A gun-free zone says to a criminal: 'Easy target."'

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